Ardeche 2017

Welcome to the Ardeche 2017 Blog page!

And we are off!! I hear the temperatures are warm in France🇫🇷, but ahead of our trip, we are certainly appreciative of the Sun being out and setting us up for a wonderful trip. I have considered writing this in pure emoji... but here you go... I will be updating this page regularly to keep you up to date with the news and updates, right now there's a wonderful buzz onboard, so let's hope for a clear journey down to Dover!🇬🇧

ERF 13:10 17th July 

Update 18th July

We are here! A little later than planned courtesy of the M25. Arrived an hour ago (11am local time). Everyone having a great laugh and getting thoroughly soaked during the Induction. We would like to thank our wonderful drivers. More later after we get back from our venture on the river!! 

The trip on the Ferry was smooth and pupils took advantage about going on he deck, combined with a little dancing and YMCA'ing', not only did we have an enjoyable trip, but enticed some pupils from different schools to join in! We arrived in France at 10:30 local time. Settled into an evening of films and attempted to get some sleep!

ERF 12:03 18th July

What a day! Firstly digging deep into the energy reserves, we arrived, had breakfast and then were promptly asked to leaving everything in rooms, ready for a morning induction. Soaked by PGL staff, the revitalising effect of cold water on a hot summer day, was welcomed by everyone!

More food followed and after being assembled into groups, we had a detailed guide on how to Paddle a boat, ready for collecting our kit and heading to the river. So a mixture of initial successes were made by various pupils, with everyone enjoying the experience of encountering the first rapids. After a mixture of success in steering the boats around various rocks, I think it is safe to say, combined with the beautiful surroundings of the Ardeche gorge, everyone felt very proud of themselves. 

The temperature reached 32 degrees by 5pm and so having paddled hard down a river, into oncoming winds, we were grateful of the opportunity to have a swim and jump from the rocks. Matt Powell has a special mention, overcoming his initial misgivings about leaping off a cliff from about 5 meters, he overcame his understandable fears to jump twice! Well done Matt. He receives star of the day award for overcoming his better judgment!

Back to camp for more food and then 'ents' involving swimming or football, a check in with the teachers who also double as the friendly bank manager, the Disco is about to start. Some are thinking about heading to bed early, as they are exhausted already and looking forward to tomorrow, where we are camping under the stars and further practicing our newly acquired paddling skills.

Unfortunately wifi is somewhat lacking on the gorge and so my further updates will appear when we return to camp on Thursday.

ERF 21:25 18th July

So we have successfully canoed the Ardeche River, about 30KM over 3 days and what an adventure we have had. 

For some, learning to canoe in one straight line has been a battle, but one that has certainly been overcome. It has been a pleasure to see how much everyone has developed both while working in teams and on steering a canoe. So here is our story...

An early rise after a late Disco and an uncomfortably warm night while trying to sleep, there were some pupils who decided to give it a go and some who found the energy to keep going until the early hours of the morning. Nevertheless, a 7am call was answered by pupils who were ready to go and looking forward to an adventure. 

Having packed the night before with one barrel between two paddlers, which held enough room for a sleeping bag and some spare clothes, there was time to eat a hearty breakfast of croissants, fruit, yoghurt and cereal, grab two bottles of water, our kit, dance the 'shake a tail feather' sing before heading out to the point we left off. 

Once we arrived in the river, it was a quick transition to setting out in our pods, chanting our various songs, and were lead through a range of rapids. Ok, so a few pupils still struggled to stay in a straight line, but by this time were becoming masterful in the art of pointing the boat back in the correct direction. 

Before long a few capsizes meant that pupils were getting a proper workout as the heaved themselves, fully laden with water back into their boat. A particular rapid named the 'can opener', was a particular issue for Maddy McCloud and Harriet Annis, who managed somehow to wrap their boat around the rock and summarily caused a huge backlog and pileup of boats! We applaud the girls, they recovered well and continued to paddle, mastering the following rapid with ease. But sometimes it was the smallest of rapids that caught us out, with random rocks coming out of nowhere and deceivingly rocking the boat far over, leading to paddlers and belonging floating down the river. Fortunately there is always an instructor on hand to help us back into the boats. 

It came to lunch and yes, more food, we beached, had baguettes and played games in the refreshing, yet pleasantly warm river. 

Games of Sumo wrestling on upturned boats provided an interesting and challenging opportunity to bring most flair about how to throw another pupil off the boat! Another opportunity was provided for pupils try and drag their instructors under the water, which while it took over three pupils per instructor, they were pleased with proving payback for being worked hard while paddling!

After another refreshing swim, we were soon back in our boats and straight onto another rapid. This time is was the teachers turn to capsize, having been quite smug about the number of rapids that had been successfully traversed, an unnamed male member of staff guided his colleague (me 😔) down a part of the rapid that he looked to be quite fun, it turned out the double or triple wave that coursed over the front of the boat, and his colleague, successfully drowned the boat in the process. Of course, as I write, there may have been more eventful issues, not that anyone has recounted them so vividly! 

As we reached then end of our stretch of the river, having taken in more GORGEous views of the Ardeche, helping our colleagues, pupils and instructors and out of their boats, we were looking forward to a well deserved break on the Bivi site. Finally we reached the bank and brought ourselves onto the bank side, taking ourselves up to the site and then down back onto the river for a last enjoyable swim. 

Then it was to Bivi... and oh boy it was an eventful one.

We initially settled very well, enjoying the bolognaise and pasta, cake, hot chocolate. Also, we were joined by mother school, and so this left there time for a social and conversation with the pupils from the other school. Then we were warned about there being chance of a storm.. laughing off, due to the weather being sunny and warm, we were certainly put in our place when the rain started, ten stopped, then started and continued in this fashion for a while. The tarpauling had been pulled over he pupils so as to guard them from the rain, though not so successfully. Since at about two in the morning, rain started and continued and continued... staff were drenched and pupils were awake.... so this continued throughout the night, with everyone finding it difficult to sleep. 

Eventually it was 6 am and everyone was awake, with the instructors cooking breakfast about 7 am and everyone then packing their wet sleeping bags, clothes into their barrel, and then getting ready to start paddling. Fortunately it has been superb weather all through today and we had the river pretty much to ourselves. The Instructors were very impressed by the speed of the paddling, with everyone clearing the rapids by lunch. Lunch consisted of more games, old rivalries surfacing and satisfied paddlers now showing ore than ever they have become competent in this sport. After lunch, more games, more swimming, more general fun, we paddled down the hardest bit with speed and closed back to camp by four pm. As I write this, this evening entertainments are happening, with pupils now dressing up and about to take the catwalk, we have packed already and are looking forward to the Disco, but more to follow on that later! 

Photos to follow shortly.

ERF 20:28 Thursday 20th July

We have arrived at Mimosa!

Apologies for the late update but I have just found the sweet spot on site where the Internet is accessible (during breakfast.) I'm finding it impossible to upload photis but will give it a go here later.

We had a great day yesterday. After leaving site at about 9am we arrived at the water park and spent the next 3 hours on rides. Leaving the water park we arrived on site for 4:30pm and settled in quickly.

As I write this, breakfast has ended and I will update you further about what happened in ''The Cube' and this morning's activities which involved windsurfing and raft building!

More to follow soon... hopefully if I find this sweet spot works again!!

Erf 8:16 22nd July

After arrival, pupils quickly settled into their new accommodation, this time we are staying in tents, which are very warm, but our little village in the campsite is starting to feel like home.

A little downtime offered the chance to find out about the site and then at 6pm we had some dinner and settled into 'nets', which tonight is the PGL version of 'The Cube'.

Having gathered into teams of 5, pupils were pitted against each other, and embarked on 2 challenges... 1 to throw a ball into a cup and the second is to remember a sequence of colours, order those colours and then beat the others by way of points. Simpler than it actually is, the challenge of throwing a ball into a cup that was pretty much the same size encouraged all to think of creative ways to navigate the rules. Nevertheless strategies were forming and special mention should go to Lucy who devised the best plan of funnelling the ball with her hands. For others, pure skill and numerous 'lives' were forfeited 'simplify' in order to close the gap between cup and ball.

The next challenge, a memory game was particularly challenging and not even teachers were able to memorise the sequence well. Again an opportunity to simplify meant that a colour was removed and special mention goes to Ben G, who used binary methodologies to record the colours using his fingers... for hose who are not aware, I teach Computing and am very proud. Ben led the way and others followed.

So the final count... Ben W, Ben G, Jack H, Matt P, Oliver were victorious and did their best to celebrate in their usual understated way.. 😆

At the end of 'ents' it was an opportunity to debrief, with wally and hero of the day.

Today the Heros for cleaning up after dinner of their own free will are Katherine S and Lucy N and Tizzy. Well done and thank you, girls.

A little more down time and then the disco allowed everyone to socialise, dance and play ping pong ball.

I do believe, as reported, special mention need to go to Arron, who, it was reported, spent the whole night busting some moves on the dance floor. For the sheer amount of stamina that he demonstrated and superb knowledge of dance routines, we salute him.

This morning we are currently at the port and pupils are taking advantage of learning to windsurf and raft building. As I write they are failing, succeeding and thoroughly enjoying themselves 😀.

More photos to follow... hopefully!!

Erf 10:35 22nd July

The Internet is proving a little tricky... but I'm back, it's 7:30 am and the sun is shining again.

We had a fun packed day yesterday and the afternoon proved to be a lovely mix of a chill out and an action packed adventure of learning to use the catamarans. With temps reaching 28C, we were all in certain need of the swim in the sea, which is cool enough to cool down but warm enough to stay in for a while!

After we returned, there was just enough time to quickly gcsnfe before chicken curry dinner, then some downtime, with Mr Sykes teaching the pupils how to play 'liar dice', and everyone to have a shower and get ready for 'ents'. At this time we were all starting to reflect on this adventurous holiday, with special mention going to the Bivi night, in which we were all able to recall the experiences of being wet, leaking tarpaulins, floors and some interesting sleeping positions to escape the various puddles. Special mention goes to Susannah who proclaimed her ability to stay dry as she found her spot on the mat, in the middle of it all!

At 8pm we were collected by our PGL rep Ellie, for a game of Million Pound Drop. An interesting game in which we were given PGL £s and shown videos on which we needed to bet. Half way through teams started to lose their money and so Ellie found some ways for them to earn it back, including a dance off and Sing off. Special mention goes to Jack RC, who put in some serious brake-dancing and was only stopped by the stones on the floor, we were all seriously impressed. Ultimately not one group won as they all bet and lost. Never mind, an evening of dancing, bal games and socialising with others prevailed and it was the end of another busy day. 

At debrief the following was agreed..

Highlights...

Windsurfing

Speaking French to people - Kim, grace,

Low lights

George got hit by a windsurf sail

Several got hit by rugby ball in the sea

Amelia star of the day for helping with cleaning up of several buoyancy aids.

Wally of the day is Mr Scanlon for losing everything he owns.

Erf 07:47 23rd July